Two 2016 presidential competitors have joined forces to get a ban on the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens included in an annual defense policy bill.
Sens. Ted CruzTed CruzThe Trail 2016: Fight night Google backs Obama's internet transition plan Steve King asks: Will Clinton be ‘on her meds or off her meds’ for debate? MORE (R-Texas) and Rand PaulRand PaulConservative group presses GOP to vote against spending bill Saudi skeptics gain strength in Congress Senators challenge status quo on Saudi arms sales MORE (R-Ky.), both of whom are running for president, have joined up with other senators to introduce an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), currently before the Senate, that would ban indefinite detention of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, without being charged or given a trial, unless authorized by Congress.
Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) also put their names on the provision.
"The Constitution does not allow President Obama, or any President, to apprehend an American citizen, arrested on U.S. soil, and detain these citizens indefinitely without a trial,” Cruz said in a statement. “While we must vigorously protect national security by pursuing violent terrorists and preventing acts of terror, we must also ensure our most basic rights as American citizens are protected.”
The senators added that they hoped the amendment would clarify "ongoing legal ambiguities," including that idea that Americans can be indefinitely detained under the 2001 authorization for the use of military force, which authorized military operations against al Qaeda.
The senators note that the 2001 authorization "cannot be construed as acts of Congress that permit indefinite detention."
Paul added, "We can and will vigorously investigate and prosecute all who seek to do us harm, and we can do so while respecting the constitutional liberties of American citizens.”
Paul and Cruz have argued that previous NDAAs have given the administration the ability to indefinitely detain Americans.
The senators got a similar amendment included in the Senate's NDAA in 2012, but it wasn't in the final bill signed by President Obama.